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"Our ultimate competition is with ourselves. That is what my uncle told me when I would visit him as a young boy... My uncle, the man the world knows as Kaga the Chairman, has decided that although America is a young country, we now possess the proper palate to host our own Iron Chef competition, an American celebration of the world's high art of cuisine."

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Host ("The Chairman"): Mark Dacascos
Iron Chefs: Mario Batali, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon
Culinary Commentator: Alton Brown
Kitchen Reporter: Kevin Brauch
Creator: Keiichi Tanaka (based upon "Ryori no Tetsujin/Iron Chef")
EP: Eytan Keller, Stephen Kroopnick, Stu Schreiberg
Origin: Kitchen Stadium America, Food Network Studios, New York City
Packager: Triage Entertainment and Fuji TV for Food Network
Airs: Sundays at 10p ET on Food Network


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Flay vs. Kelly: Battle Cowboy Ribeye
January 13

The Chairman has spent a boatload of cash installing new grills and summoning a panel of grill mates. All we need now is a challenger...

The Challenger:
Peter Xavier Kelly, the 10th of 12 children. At 23, he opened his own place in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Now he owns several restaurants, including Xaviaras, and he produces his own California wine. Today, he challenges the grill master of the Iron Chefs, Bobby Flay

The Crib Sheet:
Neil Manacle & Dan Mihalko, sous-chefs
James Kelly & Kathy Egan, sous-chefs
Southwestern COOKING STYLE Contemporary American

The theme ingredient: cowboy rib-eye, select cuts.

And Battle Cowboy Ribeye is ON! Cowboy ribeye is not steak cut from cowboys, but refers to a very thick slab of beef with at least one of those ribs still in place.

The Iron Chef looks like he's going the chile route.

Now to the new grills that the Chairman installed on both kitchens. Infrared grills burn hotter than your standard grills, because the flame is focused on a ceramic plate with thousands of microscopic pores that convert the flame into indirect heat that cook the food faster.

The IC is breaking down the rib primal into some thick cuts. Meanwhile Kathy is breaking down maitakes and boiling lobsters. Challenger is also making slab bacon.

Two notes: Both sides also have precut steaks available to them just in case, and the beef being used today is wagyu, also known as "American Kobe beef."

Fifteen minutes into the battle, and the challenger is skewering langoustine tails, boiling lobster, and sautéing crab meat, while the Iron Chef is making a milk-based béchamel sauce, a mix of tomatillos & red onions, and a lobster sauce. With that, cucumbers, shallots, and green papayas are awaiting their applications as is trumpet mushroom. Challenger has a popover mix, baby fennel, and cremini mushrooms on standby.

Tonight's Judges:
Culinary author and judge Ted Allen ("Top Chef")
Culinary journalist Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News)
Designer/talk show host Isaac Mizrahi

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Black trumpet mushrooms turns into fire on the IC's side, while the crawfish bite Flay back. He also has various sauces to counter the challenger's tomato with crabmeat, center cut roast, and ribeye carpaccio or shabu-shabu... but Flay has no meat on the grill as of yet.

What he does have, though, are lemon and tarragon added to his béarnaise sauce, boiled potatoes, and New Mexico chile sauce. Kelly's blue cheese sauce is put in a foamer, while his round cuts are off the heat and put into the blast chiller. The challenger is making maki rolls out of his pounded ribeye.

More about the theme ingredient: right in the middle of our cow are the ribs, extremely tender. The chuck contains the first six ribs, also extremely tender.

Dan is making some mashed potatoes, while Flay is calling for a spice rub. The Kelly brothers are breaking up lobster tails and making steak tartares. And the Iron Chef finally makes with the grilling with twenty minutes to go. Fifteen minutes to go, and Flay is starting to plate while all of his meat is on the grills. Challenger is prepping his ribeye maki roll with langoustine and a brown-sugar cut. And mushrooms abound. Contrasting to Flay's fiery approach, Kelly is taking a more subtle approach with quail egg on steak tartare, maki rolls, and baby fennels on plates.

Kelly is working on the applications of all five of his dishes at once, while the Iron Chef is plating by sauce. Looking at the Iron Chef, he's got steak and eggs, steak and mashed potatoes, thin strips salad, surf & turf, and his own vision of the Philly cheesesteak.

Kelly has steak and chickpea fries, steak & mushroom custard, porcini-stuffed crepe, bandanna steaks with popovers, carpaccio with potato salad, and maki roll.

And now we're down to the countdown... "Five seconds... three... two... one..." Put it down, walk away, Battle Cowboy Ribeye is OVER!

Judgment (Kelly): "I knew it was going to be a battle. I used the grill to subtlely impart the flavors of the grill."

- Trio of Ribeye (tartare, chive crepe, mushroom flan)
- Grilled Ribeye Negimaki
- Surf & Turf: Ribeye Carpaccio
- Bisteca alla Fiorentina
- Grilled Cowboy Steak

The trio works well together. The next two dishes don't strike Karine or Isaac well. Ted, meanwhile, is very happy.

Judgment (Flay): "I usually don't used subtle flavors. When I noticed that it was cowboy ribeye, I wasn't going to start then. It screams out big bold flavors."

- Hoisin Glazed Ribeye Salad
- Grilled Ribeye with Bearnaise and Crawfish Sauce
- Ode to Philly Cheesesteak
- Spice Rubbed and Grilled Steak with Mashed Potatoes
- Southwest Style Chile Glazed Ribeye

Ted likes the contrast between the meat and the vegetables. Isaac thought that the sauced brought out the flavors of the meat. Karine likes the steak as the highlight.

But whose cuisine reigns supreme?

Taste 25 27
Plating 11 12
Originality 12 12

... 51-48 upset in favor of Challenger Peter Xavier Kelly. Both chefs were tops in originality, but when it came to taste and presentation, it was certainly Peter Kelly's to lose. And in the VIP box, the entire Kelly family is smiling as to hail their hero, who bested the best of the best on his own medium. As for Bobby Flay, one defeat is not going to place his reputation at "steak".

Until next time, I bid you good eating.